Devoted sales force automation system has allowed great technological support to sales personnel, sales managers and officials since 1980s’ (Buttle, F et al, 2006). Before 1980s’, there were numerous independent software mechanisms like contact management systems and sales forecasting tools in the market (Buttle, F et al, 2006).
According to Taylor, T (1993), sales force automation is an efficient tool; it provides the sales person with information with a swift access to it. These results in reduction of time required to formulate blueprint for a client presentation and also reduces the degree of follow-ups if more information is requested.
In any case to be efficient with work, the sales personnel need to concentrate on their pivotal job responsibilities. Which would include planning the sales force activities, analyzing and assessing and monitoring them (Stoddard, J et all, 2007).
Therefore, sales force automation is an effective tool which has transformed the manual sales activities into an electronic system, which involves the usage of specialized software (Rivers, L & Dart, J 1999)
Why implement sales force automation?
In the past few decades, this technology has been a subject of great interest among the marketing theorists, practioners and also the organizations who aim at reaching new heights of success. The driving factors of the application of sales force automation technology are as follows:
Building customer database
The sales force automation enables the maintenance of customer backgrounds. This accelerates the ability of the sales manager to keep a check on the sales activities and also to keep a track of the work of the sales personnel (Lorge, S 1999).
Maintaining a systematic record of the customers’ history helps to understand the way different customers can be tackled. The advantage of adopting sales force automation is, it gives the feedback faster and it provides to the concerned manager, criticism from the customers and problems faced by them (pricing, ordering processes) (Orenstein, L & Leung, K, 1997). The sales force automation helps with processing the order too (Genticore, A 1996).
Time and effort management
Time and effort of the salespeople are very crucial. Sales force automation allows the sales people to channelize their time and efforts and also manages the contacts, product list, product order and documents (Stoddard, J et all, 2007). The sales people now don’t have to manually record the data. Everything gets automated with the implementation of sales force automation.
Implementation of sales force automation not only improves the performance but also cuts down on the cost of production. According to a report by Thetgyi (2000), the American multinational chemical organization; Dow Chemical Company adopted sales force automation which lead to the closing of its sales offices and resulted in decrease in the administration costs by 50%. Also the sales force productivity went up by 32.5% with the reduced order cycle time.
Implication of sales force automation on the sales team within the organization
In any organization it is always difficult for the workforce to adapt to a completely new technology, which might also be threatening to their job (Buttle, F et al, 2006). Initially it was difficult for the sales team to adapt the new mechanism. Later it was found out, the acceptance of the technology was dependent upon the perceived usefulness of the software (Buttle, F et al, 2006). The sales team understood that the sales force automation technology would assist them in working and would bring out their best. Their acceptance level towards the new sales force automation technology would be high only if they were provided with proper training (Morgan, A & Inks, S , 2001).
Implementation of Sales force automation
The nature of the Sales Force Automation depends on the requirements of the company; hence it varies from company to company. The sales force automation mechanism is a combination of many technologies which backs the most important goal, that is, to improve the order processing, analysis, evaluation, circulation of the information to increase efficiency of the sales force for improving the relation with the customers (Morgan, A & Inks, S, 2001). The sales force automation vendors offer customized software (Buttle, F et al, 2006). “Siebel” is the leader in making sales force automation software, which offers solutions ranging from aerospace and defense to transportation (Buttle, F et al, 2006)
The sales force automation technology involves a huge initial investment, since it will transform the face of the sales department of an organization. Companies all over the world are investing heavily on sales force automation software, hoping for an overwhelming productivity of the sales people. The system of sales force automation enables the salesperson to create a road map and structure their selling strategy in an efficient way that also gives a reason to the customers to continue to buy the products from the same company.
- Buttle, F et al, 2006, ‘Sales Force Automation; review, critique, research agenda’, International Journal of Management Reviews, Blackwell Publishing Ltd
- Gentilcore, A 1996, ‘Sales Force Automation Comes of Age’, Computing Canada, Vol- 22, No-25
- Lorge, S, 1999, ‘A Real-Life SFA Success Story’, Sales and Marketing Management, Vol- 515, No.1
- Morgan, A & Inks, S , 2001, ‘Technology and the Sales Force: Increasing Acceptance of Sales Force Automation’, Industrial Marketing Management, Vol- 30, No -5
- Orenstein, L & Kenneth L 1997, ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of Sales Force Automation’, Marketing News, Vol-31, No 23
- Rivers, L & Dart, J, 1999, ‘The Acquisition and Use of Sales Force Automation by Mid-Sized Manufacturers’, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, Vol 19, No.2
- Stoddard, J et all, 2007, ‘Sales Managers’ Perception of the Benefits of Sales Force Automation’, Journal of Selling & Major Account Management, Northern Illinois University, Academic Article, Vol – 7, No. 3
- Taylor, T, 1993, ‘Computers Bring Quick Return’, Sales and Marketing Management
- Thetgyi, O, 2000, ‘Radical Makeovers’, Sales and Marketing Management, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management